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Addison remains at home with Larmour and Conway standing by for starts

Joe Schmidt will name his starting team to face Scotland at 7am Irish time on Friday.

WILL ADDISON’S HOPES surely rose once again when Joe Schmidt got on the phone to Dan McFarland and asked the Ulster boss to withdraw the versatile back from Saturday’s friendly clash with Glasgow.

Having been in line to start at fullback, Addison was instead pulled from the Ulster team and didn’t play a single minute as he was kept out of harm’s way in case Ireland needed him to jump on a plane to Japan.

irelands-will-addison Addison narrowly missed out on making Ireland's squad. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

However, the follow-up call from Schmidt has not yet materialised, with Ireland saying they haven’t made any move to bring Addison to Japan, despite injury issues for Robbie Henshaw, Keith Earls, and Rob Kearney.

Ireland could actually fly the Ulster man out to Japan at their own cost – he wouldn’t be allowed to train with or stay in the same hotel as Schmidt’s 31-man squad – but Addison hasn’t left Ireland at this stage.

“The best thing for Will is for him to keep ticking over and playing and training and keeping his rugby brain going as well,” said Ireland assistant coach Andy Farrell yesterday.

“He’s had a good pre-season because he’s come back from a big old injury with his back so it’s important that he keeps going rugby-wise.”

Henshaw will definitely miss Sunday’s World Cup opener against Scotland in Yokohama due to the hamstring injury he sustained at Ireland training last weekend, and it remains to be seen when he makes his return, though Farrell said he will be “in the mix” for the clash with Japan on 28 September.

Earls has been struggling with a knee issue for some weeks now, a huge frustration for the Munster man, and he remains a major doubt for the Scotland clash.

Kearney is in the same boat after suffering a foot issue in training earlier this week, potentially leaving Schmidt without three backs for this opening game due to injury.

jordan-larmour Larmour could start this weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland insisted yesterday that they’re hopeful Earls and Kearney will feature but one senses they are keen to confuse Scotland boss Gregor Townsend if at all possible.

The Scots, for their part, appear to believe that Andrew Conway will be at fullback for Ireland this weekend, with Stuart Hogg name-checking the Munster man at their press conference in Tokyo yesterday.

That certainly tallies with information that Conway and Jordan Larmour are standing by to start in the event that Earls and Kearney are ruled out. 

That latter pair will be out on the training pitch with Ireland tomorrow, although the session in Yokohama takes place after Schmidt has named his starting team [7am Irish time on Friday], so there won’t be a chance to prove their fitness in that sense.

Ideally, Kearney’s backfield and aerial nous would be available, as well as Earls’ intelligence and strong decision-making, but this weekend could provide a major opportunity for Conway and Larmour to shine.

Conway being picked at fullback would be an interesting move from Ireland, given that Larmour has played more rugby at 15 under Schmidt than the Munster man has.

keith-fox-and-keith-earls Earls has been struggling with a knee issue. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Conway is strong in the air and a hard-working defender, attributes that Ireland perhaps feel make him well suited to the task of dealing with Scotland’s unpredictable attacking style, which involves accurate attacking kicks.

A slot on the right wing would still leave Larmour with lots of defensive decisions to make, but it might also allow him to focus more heavily on bringing his lethal attacking skills into play.

Whatever way selection goes tomorrow, there will be excitement for Ireland fans. 

For now, players like Addison who narrowly missed out on this World Cup watch on with the supporters.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from Yokohama

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